The big story should have been Khabib Nurmagomedov choking Justin Geathje to sleep in the second round to retain his UFC lightweight championship at UFC 254 at Flash Forum, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi yesterday, Sunday, October 25.
Instead, Khabib’s victory was overshadowed by his retirement from the sport moments after his win.
Just as Bruce Buffer was formally announcing the official result Nurmagomedov was gnawing at the plastic tape wrapping his right glove in place.
His corner men helped Nurmagomedov remove both gloves which he promptly placed on floor of the Octagon before announcing his retirement.
“Today. It was my last fight. No way I am going to come here without my father. It was first time. When UFC called me about Justin I talked with my mother. She doesn’t want me to fight without my father. But I promised her it was going to be my last fight. And if I give my word. I have to follow this. It was my last fight here,” said Nurmagomedov.
The MMA champion’s father and coach, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, died from complications brought on by Covid-19 just last July.
His father’s death gave him a better appreciation of life and family. Nurmagomedov hinted he is retiring from the sport to spend more time with his loved ones especially his mother.
Nurmagomedov also requested the promotion to name him as best pound-for-pound champion because he was only at second spot behind UFC’s best pound-for-pound Jon Jones.
“You guys have to put me on number 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world because I deserve this. Undisputed UFC lightweight champion, 13 and 0, with 13 in UFC and 29 in all my pro MMA career. I think I deserve this,” said Nurmagomedov.
In the co-main event former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker pounded Jared Cannonier’s face into a bloody mess with his accurate strikes to earn a unanimous decision victory in their three-round fight.
Alexander Volkov landed a front kick right on the stomach of Walter Harris, who fell backward into the cage in pain, to score a second round stoppage in their heavyweight bout.
Phil Hawes peppered Jacob Malkoun with a buzz-saw attack of punches which left Malkoun staggering backwards into the cage. Hawes kept moving forward then put away Malkoun with a left straight to the jaw to earn a knockout victory in just 18 seconds of the first round of their middleweight fight.
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